DOES GOD ANSWER OUR PRAYERS?

Albert Durer’s Hands painted by his brother Albrecht Durer

Albert Durer’s Hands painted by his brother Albrecht Durer

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

“And all things, whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.  Matthew” 21:22
Prayer is exemplary in the Bible. We find it everywhere. There are many teachings on prayer; many commendations of prayer. Jesus is an example to us in his recourse to prayer—and the Bible is abundant in teaching and inviting us to pray. Jesus gave us instructions regarding prayer:

1) Don’t pray like the Pharisees who love to be heard in public for the impression that they can make. (Matthew 6:5)

2) Pray in private; “Go into your own room and close the door and pray there.” (Matthew 6:6)

3) “Watch and pray that you do not enter into temptation.” (Luke 22:46)

4) “bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:28)

5) Jesus gave us a pattern of prayer in the Lord’s Prayer: “Hallowed be thy
name—Thy kingdom come—Thy will be done…Give us this day our daily bread…Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”

Prayer presumes a personal relationship with the living God. There are prerequisites to prayer: We must pray in faith, believing that God will hear and answer our prayers. We must pray according to the will of God;

“Hitherto have you asked nothing in my name; ask and you will receive that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24)

If we affirm that God answers our prayers, we mean all of the following: That he will give us, sooner or later, what we have asked of him. That he will tell us to be patient and wait; the answer will come. That the answer will come because we have asked for something that is good for us or for others. That we are to be in harmony with God in our prayers.

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.” (John 15:7)

Jesus told the parable of the widow and the judge (John 18:1-8), who ignored her and refused to decide her case, because it was a small matter that was beneath him. However, she persisted, and continued to come back to court. He finally said, to get her off his back, “I will decide her case”.

“And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily.”  (John 18:7)

Prayer does not mean that we put God under our control. We are to be submissive to God, who is amazingly great. He is not to be submissive to us. Prayer is not like Aladdin’s Lamp (just rub it and your wish will be fulfilled). Indeed, prayer is speaking with God. We should expect to listen as well as to speak. He speaks to us through the scriptures, through the Sunday sermon, through our consciences.

Many have recognized that there are five aspects to the complete prayer:
1) Adoration and praise
2) Confession
3) Thanksgiving
4) Supplication
5) Intercession

“Call to me and I will answer you—and will tell you great and hidden things which
you have not known.” (Jeremiah 33:3)

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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There IS Gain With Pain

By Dr. Foster H. Shannon

Mark 2:  The paralyzed man being let down through the roof in front of Jesus.

Mark 2: The paralyzed man being let down through the roof in front of Jesus.

The knee replacement surgery, which I experienced on the 10th of January, and the accompanying slowness of recovery and pain has caused me to reflect again on what the Bible has to say about temptation, difficulties, and trials. The Bible makes it plain that all people will suffer in one manner or another, and that the end result can be beneficial. Suffering takes many forms: disappointment, failure, illness, financial losses, mistreatment by others, etc. The experiences of the unbelieving are not necessarily beneficial, but the difficulties of life can lead the believing to draw closer to their Lord. “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 1:6,7)

One of the greatest of Christians, the apostle Paul, suffered from a thorn in the flesh. We do not know what it was, but it must have been severe, otherwise he would not have mentioned it. In II Corinthians, chapter 12, he tells of a special blessing; being caught up in the spirit to Heaven and experiencing marvelous things. But our Lord must keep the lives of even the best of Christians in balance. Thus, Paul writes,

“to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated.”

God’s purpose for us is that we may grow in his grace:

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (II Corinthians 3:18)

Why do we need to be tested? As we look to the scriptures, we find good reasons:

1. To keep us from being conceited. Conceit is overweening self-esteem; having an excessively fine opinion of one’s self. All of us have gifts and abilities, and in some areas find ourselves more able than others. It is all too easy for us to think that we are not only more gifted and skilled–but that we are superior to others.

“Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others as better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)

2. That we may never forget our need of God and draw near to him.

“For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

3. That sanctification, our growth in grace, may continue as we reckon with factors in our lives that do not belong.

“Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

Our conclusion: Temptations, illnesses, disappointments will come. Some of our suffering, we bring on ourselves through our own sins, carelessness and bad decisions, but much of it comes from the world, the times in which we live. We are to draw near to God for comfort and strength; to seek his will; and to reckon with our faults

“Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.” (Psalm 118:5)

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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Acts of Courage

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

It was the first Sunday after Easter. What should I preach for Sunday April 7? It seemed to me that the Book of Acts was most appropriate, for it tells us what happened after the resurrection and ascension of our Lord. So my message was about the book of Acts. The Bible is like a deep well that always gives the best water, but never runs dry. The more you draw from it, the more there is.

As I read this book again, I was overwhelmed by the courage and commitment of the followers of Jesus. Yet they had not distinguished themselves in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was bound and taken into custody.  Of the eleven (Judas had come to betray Jesus) nine fled for their lives. John and Peter followed Jesus to his trial before the Sanhedrin. But when asked, on three occasions, if he was a follower of Jesus, Peter denied, with cursing, saying that he did not know him. We can understand. These leaders of the Jews were out to kill Jesus, and from Peter’s perspective he might be next.

PENTECOSTWhat we see in the book of Acts is the transformation of Peter, the other disciples and followers. A short time after the ascension of Jesus, at the feast of Pentecost, the disciples, and a larger number of other followers, were filled with the Holy Spirit and transformed. They assembled in the temple, a large crowd gathered, and Peter addressed them convincingly and boldly. Out of that crowd some three thousand became believers in Christ, were baptized and joined the disciples.

What struck me was that they chose the temple as the place to meet and minister in the name of Jesus! The temple was the seat of the ruling Sanhedrin, that had succeeded in exacting the execution of Jesus from the Romans. Had we been there, we might have counseled them to gather in a less notable place.

In Acts, chapter three, we read, “Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer,”. They returned to the temple again, and there they healed a man (known to many who came to the temple) who had been lame from his birth, unable to walk. The Sadducees had them arrested and put into custody. They were sternly warned not to speak again in the name of Jesus.

In chapter five, they are back in the temple. Again they are arrested under the authority of the Sadducees and placed in prison. An angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and let them out—telling them to go back to the temple and speak the words of life. They were beaten again and charged not to speak in the name of Jesus. None-theless, they continued to come to the temple courageously declaring Jesus the Savior—who would forgive and save all who believed in him.

Are we too quiet, too careful, unwilling to venture into the temple?

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self control.” (II Timothy 1:7)

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster…

Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note

Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth.
He is currently Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA. He is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. He is the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, which he established with others in 1981. Green Leaf Press, Inc. publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is:www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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Are you Politically Correct?

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

These are days when the winds are blowing against those who have a high view of scripture. We are required to swim upstream against the current. We do not believe that any group of people should be reviled or despised because of the color of their skins, their language, their location or cultural practices that are different from ours. But we believe that there is both right and wrong. “Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. He who does good is of God; he who does evil has not seen God.” (III John 11). We are blessed to have the Ten Commandments and the other moral laws that accompany them; the teachings of Jesus; the counsel of the whole Bible. An atmosphere of political correctness is suffocating intellectual dialogue in the United States. Many have grown so discouraged that they are reluctant to offer their opinion on any import topic. Christians are expected to keep their mouths shut regarding their beliefs.

Dr. Ben Carson

Dr. Ben Carson

Dr. Ben Carson is the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He came to the attention of many because at the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this year he gave a bold and courageous address of his beliefs. He was recently invited to give the annual Commencement Address for the students at John Hopkins University. A group of students have petitioned that he be banned because he has beliefs that they disagree with! Are not universities to be places where many points of view can be considered, and people are allowed to make up their own minds?

Much of the media in America today is carrying on a blitzkrieg—a hurricane of frenzy that all should consider those who engage in homosexual practice as noble, exceptional, to be especially worthy of respect. Our leading newspapers present article, after article, after article, promoting a homosexual lifestyle and homosexual marriage—and they expect all of us to go along with it. We can be gracious, we can be loving, we can be thoughtful, we can be considerate (as we should)—but we cannot depart from what we know the Bible teaches. The Christian community is going through difficult times. Too many are finding it easier to “throw in the towel” and go along with what is temporarily popular today. We do not like the way the winds are blowing right now, but we should not be surprised. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”(IPeter 4:12,13)

In spite of the fact that some deny it—the scriptures teach that homosexual practice is wrong, just as fornication and adultery are wrong. Jesus Christ came to save us from our sins—not to glorify them—or to teach us that they don’t matter.

Jesus has taught us that we can reject and despise sin without rejecting and despising the sinner. There are times when we are called to be courageous. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you whenever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster…

Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note

Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth.
He is currently Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA. He is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. He is the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, which he established with others in 1981. Green Leaf Press, Inc. publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is:www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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What do you do when things don’t go well?

 by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

What do you do when things do not go well?  You have a big day ahead of you, and you don’t feel well and you don’t want to do anything!  You have made careful plans for your day, and there are at least six unexpected events that delay you and distract you.  You have an appointment to make and forget about it—or someone has an appointment to see you and they fail to come.  You promise to do something for another, and you run out of time and it is not done.  Someone makes a promise to you and fails to fulfill it.  Or you read the morning news and wonder who will help us out of the messes that we are in?

READ Psalm 77

The psalmist is hurting.  He prays to God, and he is not sure that he is being heard.  When he looks out at the day he sees  trouble, and he finds no comfort.  He thinks of God, but he is so troubled that he cannot speak.   He remembers better days.  He feels that God is against him.  In a way he is asking if he has missed the train of faith and trust in God.  Then in verse 10 he wakes up.

He recognizes that the problem is not God—but his grief. Out of that realization regarding himself, he finds the resolution:  verses 11 and 12, “I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord; yea, I will remember thy wonders of old.  I will meditate on all thy work, and muse on thy mighty deeds.  Thy Way, O God, is holy.  What god is great like our God?”  The psalmist’s plight and resolution remind me of two passages in the New Testament.  “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”  (Matthew 6:33)  “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set you minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”  (Colossians 3:1,2)

The conclusions come to the Psalmist.  “Your way is holy.”  (perfect) There is none other like You.  You are the God who works wonders and redeems your people.  Our God is always to be first in  our hearts!  Our Savior is always there to help us.

This psalm should remind us of those practices that will help us:

  • Turning our attention from ourselves to God
  • Reading the Bible daily
  • Being pro active for the Lord; engaging in his service; helping someone else 
Foster H. Shannon

Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments by typing the address below into your mail program:

I applogize for the inconvenience, but this helps us avoid spammers! Thank you.

More about Foster…

Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note

Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth.
He is currently Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA. He is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. He is the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, which he established with others in 1981. Green Leaf Press, Inc. publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is:www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

Lance Armstrong: The Truth about Lying

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

“Every violation of truth is a stab at the health of human society.” ~Emerson

Lance Armstrong, winner of seven Tour de France Titles, celebrated as an
exceptional and stellar athlete, has for years been accused of doping with a number
of stimulating drugs to achieve maximum performance. Until last week he has
denied any use of performance enhancing drugs, and has virulently attacked those
who accused him of “doping”. It is a sad scene. Much, perhaps everything, that he
has gained has been lost. The adulation and respect that had been bestowed upon
him is gone. One wonders how much he would have gained—and how little lost had
he refused to use the illicit drugs, and had he been completely honest.

Lance Armstrong’s fall from fame and success raises a latent issue that has
been boiling underneath the surface for a long time. How widespread is lying, how
much is lying an accepted part of our culture, and how many people care little when
they resort to lying? Do not many argue that lying is acceptable if it is to protect
one’s reputation? How many of our politicians lie to us to attain or keep a coveted
position?

Why should we avoid lying? Why should we be assiduous in telling the truth?
The basic reason is because lying is a sin and offensive to almighty God. John
8:31,32, “Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, if you continue in
my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will
make you free.” John 8:44b, “ When [the devil] lies he speaks according to his
own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Revelation 21:8, But as for the
cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers,
idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and
brimstone, which is the second death.” We must add that there is not one of these
sins that cannot be forgiven, if one believes in the Savior and confesses the sin to
him!

It has been said that truth is the coin of the realm. We cannot have
justice without truth. We cannot achieve wholesome and happy families without
truth. Governments must depend upon the truth to achieve justice and
righteousness. Truth is essential in personal relations if there is to be trust. The
most careful adherence to the truth was essential to the Mar’s Rover, “Curiosity”,
successfully landing and completing its mission. Any malfunction would bring
disaster. Truth is essential to the preparing of wholesome foods and building good
automobiles.

Deliberate or casual lying is not only counterproductive and damaging, it is
wrong.

Foster H. Shannon

Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments by typing the address below into your mail program:

I applogize for the inconvenience, but this helps us avoid spammers! Thank you.

More about Foster…

Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note

Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth.
He is currently Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA. He is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. He is the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, which he established with others in 1981. Green Leaf Press, Inc. publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is:www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

HOW TO HANDLE DISCOURAGEMENT

by Foster Shannon

Pastor, Educator, Writer, Husband, Father, Grandfather, Sports Fan

 

Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never…” Winston Churchill

All of us get discouraged at times. Are you looking forward to the new year with confidence and hope—or with discouragement? At some times discouragement is hard to avoid, but some people allow themselves to get deeply discouraged, and end up in a slough of despond.

Common causes of discouragement:

  • Your investments do not pan out
  • Your hopes for your children are not realized
  • 
You lose your job
  • You don’t feel good
  • You have been criticized
  • Things don’t work out
  • Someone that you have looked up to—disappoints you

We need to recognize that though discouragement is normal—we should not entertain it! Discouragement can result when we attempt something and fail. Discouragement inclines you to quit—to give up. Discouragement comes when someone talks you out of something that you thought would be good to do. (“Some people die with the music still in them”) Discouragement comes when we recognize that our abilities are not up to the challenge. Excessive expectations can lead to discouragement. We need to recognize that some things may be beyond our reach. Excessive desires can lead to discouragement

Many people, both Christian and non-Christian look out at a world that is violent, evil, hateful, selfish—and ask why does God not do something about it? We may question God’s authority. We even begin to blame God for our misfortune. Discouragement can lead to rebellion against God: “He let me down. He did not help me.” We blame others for the plight that we are in. Disappointment can lead to Discouragement to Despair to Bitterness—and even Hatred. Despair: to lose or abandon hope; to become hopeless; to lose faith. We must not take the path of despair. There are many things that we can be afraid of. Fear is normal. Through faith and determination we overcome fear. Moby Dick, Starbuck, the chief mate of the Pequod: “I will have no man in my boat,” said Starbuck, “who is not afraid of a whale.”

God helps us. Some of us may be too finely tuned. We may expect too much, and find disappointed and discouragement. We can be hard on ourselves—expecting or desiring too much.

Psalm 62:1,2, “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly moved.”

I Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

II Corinthians 2:14, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.”

Foster H. Shannon

 

Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments by typing the address below into your mail program:

I applogize for the inconvenience, but this helps us avoid spammers! Thank you.

More about Foster…

Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note

Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth.
He is currently Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA. He is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. He is the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, which he established with others in 1981. Green Leaf Press, Inc. publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is:www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.